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Home » #FFRODEO » Rodeo #1: Modern Tall Tale

Rodeo #1: Modern Tall Tale

Out west where I grew up, to tell a tall tale was to tell a whopper of a lie so big no one would ever believe it. Someone would start the storytelling, and the next person would try to out-exaggerate the last one. Some told tall tales as a joke, especially if an inexperienced newbie might believe it. Wild Bill Hickok’s biographer, Joseph Rosa, suspected that Bill magnified the truth for fun.

Tall tales are the stuff of dime-store novels and pulp fiction.

What is a tall tale? One that openly exaggerates and magnifies the truth to the point of being unbelievable. The story itself is hyperbole. But we want to believe it because it’s humorous, melodramatic, or sensational.

This contest asks you to give a tall tale a modern bent. Don’t rely on the stories of Pecos Bill or 19th-century dime-store westerns. Go past the early sci-fi and detective stories of pulp fiction. Write a tall tale that is recognizable set in the present time.

Have fun, exaggerating!


  1. Write a tall tale and exaggerate something that happens to someone somewhere.
  2. It can be fiction or fictionized BOTS (based on a true story) but must be exaggerated to the point it couldn’t possibly be true. It’s okay — tell a whopper of a lie as a story!
  3. It can be humorous, sensational, or melodramatic from any genre.
  4. Use original details to express your tale.
  5. Make the judges laugh or gasp in surprise.


  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the Entries that aren’t 99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the story that matters most.
  4. Use the form below the rules to enter.
  5. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at
  6. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 9, 2019.
  7. You may submit a “challenge” if you don’t want to enter the contest or if you wrote more than one entry.
  8. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after November 28.


Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names in order to select the top ten blind. Please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog. A live panel of judges from the Keweenaw will select three winners from the top ten stories. The blind judging will be a literary event held at the Roberts Street Writery at Carrot Ranch World Headquarters in Hancock, Michigan. After selections are made, a single Winners Announcement with the top ten in each category will be posted on November 28. All ten stories in each contest will receive a full literary critique, and the top winner in each contest will receive $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).



  1. “Hard ta tell a tall tale from fact these days Kid, ‘cause fact is there’s some shift goin’ on ya jist cain’t make up.”
    “Yep. Pal, tell the one ‘bout the guy who denied global warmin’, claimed it was all a part a his plan.”
    “Called it coastal improvement, got folks in South Dakota ta invest in waterfront property. Water kep risin’ an’ when them extreme cold snaps a winter came it all turned ta ice. Whole country iced over. Guy said it was all part a his plan, an’ he sold hats. Hats said, ‘Make America skate again’.”

  2. Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:
    Saddle up! The Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s writing contests have begun.

  3. Kid’s KEVA Kiosk

    “Kid. What’re ya doin’ asettin’ in thet upended stock tank?”
    “I decided ta set up shop fer the rodeo crowds. This here’s my think tank. Folks’ll pay me fer my thoughts.”
    “I don’t think much a this idea, Kid. Didja clear it with Shorty?”
    “What do you think?”
    “Thinkin’ not. So how’s yer gig work?”
    “Easy. Ask me a question, I give ya the Kid’s Eye View Answer.”
    “In 99 words?”
    “Naw, jist somethin’ quippy. But if’n someone was ta request a 99 word tale fer themsefs an’ were ta donate via Shorty’s paypal button…”
    “Huh. Who’da thunk it.”

  4. It’s here. 🙂 Looks like you’ve got a great line-up again this year. Sharing!

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Time for the first of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo contests (or challenge if you would rather) but an interesting prompt.. Are you good at telling tall tales.. in 99 words…then head over.

  6. Norah says:

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    It’s October again. That means it’s time for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. This year it is being run a little differently but everyone still has a chance to join in. The first contest is now open for your entries and the prompt is ‘Tall Tales’. Pop over to the Ranch for details, and read Charli’s previous post with suggestions to support your writing: Get Ready to Rodeo Like It’s 2019!

    During the contest, I won’t be posting my usual mid-week flash fiction post but will reblog Charli’s prompt post on the weekend to keep you up-to-date.
    I wish you all success. What a fun rodeo with lots of great prizes!

  7. Norah says:

    Love this prompt. I’m looking forward to writing my response. Best wishes to all contestants. I look forward to reading the winning entries at the conclusion of the contest.

  8. Reblogged this on M J Mallon YA/Paranormal Author and commented:
    Charli Mills Rodeo Flash Fiction Writing Contest has begun. How tempting is that!

  9. I think Charli needs a tall tale: The Starlings and The Writer.

  10. […] via Rodeo #1: Modern Tall Tale […]

  11. […] why you’re sure to be hollerin’ when I tell you about Carrot Ranch‘s Rodeo! Every year, Charli hosts contests over a few weeks with varying […]

  12. floridaborne says:

    Not sure if I sent in the same thing twice.

    I thought I sent it in, and then I saw that it was still up on the screen.

    My apologies if I sent in two of the same thing.

  13. Jules says:

    This is a Challenge Piece:

    I just wanted to put in something…
    I still have to think about a better piece if/for the contest. Enjoy

    Blasting Bunyan

    Paul and Babe worked hard to keep their farm going. The city slowly encroached. The two were a simple pair that got the job done. Their undoing was the tourists looking to escape the city. Some young kids had mom and dad stop the car to take photos on their tablets. The youngsters not being thrilled with being taken away from the city created video manipulating the farmer into a giant and coloring Babe blue.

    The giant hatchet throwing farmer and his dancing blue Ox soon had over ten thousand likes. And too many city folks looking for them.


  14. Fantasy with Science says:

    tell the site for participation.

    On 04/10/2019, Carrot Ranch Literary Community

    • Charli Mills says:

      This is the site for participation. The entry form is in the post. Are you looking for clarification? Not sure what the date reference is to…

  15. Jules says:

    OK I submitted an entry. busy week ahead, with a hospital visit at the end of the week… Might not be around until early next week.

    Good Luck everyone!

  16. I am excited to take part this year. I missed it last year. But I am struggling with the word count. I wrote a rough idea of a story and it was well over the limit! time for deep cuts!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Caitlin, I hope you discover the joy of deep cuts to a story. It can lead to unexpected discoveries and force creative solutions. Glad you can join in!

  17. susansleggs says:

    Thank you to Charli for giving us a place to grow and the advice to let our all tales set a day or two. I keep thinking and revising. Good luck everyone.

  18. Pete says:

    Ben tore out of the job site, his spotless boots on the gas, dust trailing the truck.

    He was happy to have a task. Being new, he’d worried the guys would mess with him. He wanted to get the errand done without any trouble.
    He entered Green’s Hardware, his hardhat gleaming.

    At the desk, he presented the levels the guys had handed him. “Hello, I need to get some new bubbles for these levels,” he said proudly.

    Old Green gave him a wizened smile.

    “First day?”

    Ben removed his hat. “Sure is.”

    “Thought so, I’ll check on your bubbles.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! Great example of the tall tales greenhorns believe, Pete!

      When I worked for the state park near my hometown, I joined the maintenance crew as the only female. We cleaned the campground bathrooms every morning, and I got stuck cleaning the women’s side alone, while three other crew cleaned the men’s. If that weren’t skewed enough, they told me I had “good times” and might beat the “record.” They convinced me for an entire week to clean both sides while the three of them stood by with a watch, timing me and then, checking the bathrooms to make sure I cleaned thoroughly. By the end of the week, they had me so puffed up that I was certainly going to beat the record bathroom cleaning times in the entire state park system that I should go tell our boss my times. My boss frowned at me, and asked, “What?” Then he looked over at the three who had me going all week and they took off laughing and running, me in pursuit, swinging a toilet brush!

  19. How bout that? I got er done and not at the last second. Thanks for all of your hard work on this Charli.

  20. Hi Charli,

    I don’t want to miss the fun completely this year. I squeezed some time in from my two trips to write the draft and told my hubby to leave me alone for an hour this morning from the Maui adventure. I just submitted it.

    Great theme for the first round, Charli.

  21. Tough prompt to kick off this rodeo but what fun would it be without the challenge?! Looking forward to reading all the entries. Good luck all!!

  22. […] If you’d like to join in, you will find the contests here: […]

  23. floatinggold says:

    I thought you would go easy on us with the first prompt, but no.
    It was difficult for me. I’m not sure if I understood it correctly.
    I have social commentary for my piece, but I will have to let it stand on its own.

    Thank you for the opportunity, Charli, and I look forward to more. It’s a hectic time for me, but I MUST Rodeo. Yeehaw!

  24. […] “Write a tall tale about a current event, person or place in 99 – words, no more no, less.” – a prompt for this week’s CW piece. [Source: @CarrotRanch] […]

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